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Defense chief says N. Korea's hypersonic missile 'unsuccessful' in last-stage glide flight

14 April 2024 22:20 (UTC+04:00)
Defense chief says N. Korea's hypersonic missile 'unsuccessful' in last-stage glide flight

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said Sunday that North Korea's hypersonic missile launched earlier this month was "unsuccessful in its last glide flight" but predicted that the North's hypersonic missile with an intermediate range could be "successful one day," Azernews reports, citing Yonhap.

Shin made the assessment during an interview with public broadcaster KBS after the North claimed it successfully test-fired the Hwasongpho-16B, a new intermediate-range ballistic missile tipped with a hypersonic warhead.

"Based on a detailed analysis by the U.S. and South Korea, we assess (North Korea's hypersonic missile) to be unsuccessful in its last-stage glide flight," he said.

He described that a hypersonic missile has to maneuver at a speed of at least Mach 5 in its final diving stage.

"(The hypersonic missile) is still in its incomplete stages but since the North is focusing on its development, we predict that they will be successful one day," he added.

On April 3, North Korea's state media announced that the "hypersonic glide warhead reached its first peak at a height of 101.1 kilometers and the second at 72.3 kilometers while making a 1,000-km-long flight as planned to accurately hit waters in the East Sea."

The South Korean military said the missile flew about 600 kilometers before falling into the East Sea and called the North's claims partially "exaggerated," although it said Pyongyang appears to have made some technological progress in its hypersonic weapons program.

A hypersonic missile is usually hard to intercept with existing missile defense shields. It travels at a speed of at least Mach 5 -- five times the speed of sound -- and is designed to be maneuverable on unpredictable flight paths and fly at low altitudes.

North Korea has been ramping up its weapons tests this year, including the launches of cruise missiles from sea and land and firing drills involving super-large multiple rocket launchers.

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